Granger Smith Recounts The Night That He Hit ‘Rock Bottom,’ And How His Family And Faith Saved Him

“That was just as rock bottom as it got to be honest,” Smith admitted.


Madeleine O’Connell

| Posted on

August 3, 2023

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Photo Courtesy Granger Smith

Four years after Granger Smith and his wife, Amber, lost their three-year-old son, River, in a fatal accident, the country artist announced his decision to step away from his longtime music career and pursue ministry. 

In a new interview with ET’s Rachel Smith, the Texas native opens up about his new path that evolved from one of the lowest points in his life. 

Nights following the tragedy of their son drowning in their home pool, Smith found himself left with a constant reminder of overwhelming fear through images that raced through his mind and kept him up at night. He admitted to turning to weed and alcohol to try and help blur the nightmares in hopes of getting some sleep. 

“I would wake up in the middle of the night many times, and I would wake up and go, ‘I lost my son,’ and then I couldn’t go back to sleep. It was every night, so I would take weed in some form so that hopefully I would sleep all night, and it worked,” he shared honestly. “It felt good, and so then I thought, ‘Well, I might was well go and have [it] in the morning, too, in case something happens at breakfast, and then I might as well make sure around lunch time’…And then I thought, ‘If I don’t have it, I’m in trouble, and the slideshow’s gonna overtake me.”

Smith went on to describe the torturing images, explaining how he would replay that moment of his son face down in the pool or the feeling of pure panic at the hospital when they heard the doctor saying, “We’re gonna lose him.”

Photo Courtesy Granger Smith
Photo Courtesy Granger Smith

Eventually, the grief became too much to bear and Smith ended up hitting “rock bottom” one night when he was drunk on his tour bus and holding a gun in his hand. 

“That was just as rock bottom as it got to be honest,” he said.

Smith revealed how he felt his life slipping out of his fingers when neither the weed nor the alcohol would take the pain away anymore. He recalled wanting to “end it all” as he had lost nearly all his strength to continue on. 

“…And when you don’t have any strength, what do you do? Maybe the only answer is to end it all because maybe that’s where the peace is. Maybe that’s when you can finally rest in that,” he shared, illustrating the dark thoughts running through his mind. 

Luckily, he found a wave of strength from imagining his two other kids, Lincoln and Landon and how at only seven and five years old at the time, they were waiting for him to return and be there for them. 

“I had one thought and it was Lincoln and London, my two kids at home. That was the first thought that hit me,” he recounts. 

It was both his kids and his faith that pulled him through this dark time and for that, he has found a new path in life. While his story is filled with tremendous sadness, Smith was also able to find the light at the end of the tunnel and gain a stronger relationship with his faith after that night. 

“I said, ‘Jesus, help me.’ Suddenly I felt life sort of stop for the first time. The slideshow stopped. I slid the gun out of my hand and it hit the bank and I fell down on the floor,” Smith recalled. “I was crying and I was horrified at my shame and my guilt and the weakness I was and the lack of strength that I had and the weak man that I was. It all hit me at once and that was the beginning.”

Now, along with embarking on his new career in ministry and working towards earning a master’s degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, he and his wife also work to spread awareness for water safety with children and help others who are enduring their own grief.

The “Happens Like That” artist has been very open about his story and even shared a further look into everything he’s endured in his memoir, Like a River. This book was released on August 1 and featured candid writing that allows readers to better understand his family’s experiences.

Granger Smith - Like A River
Granger Smith – Like A River

Before he says his final goodbye to life on the road, Granger Smith still has a few dates left of his “Like A River” tour. This farewell trek launched on April 13 in Oshkosh, WI and is slated to continue through August 25 and August 26 where he will take the stage for the final time with back-to-back shows in Fort Worth, TX. 

His next performance is scheduled for August 3 in Boston, MA. 

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Madeleine O’Connell graduated from North Central College with a bachelors degree in Journalism and Broadcast Communications before deciding to pursue her studies further at DePaul University. There, she earned her masters degree in Digital Communication & Media Arts. O’Connell served as a freelance writer for over two years while also interning with the Academy of Country Music, SiriusXM and Circle Media and assisting with Amazon Music’s Country Heat Weekly podcast. In addition to Country Now, she has been published in American Songwriter, Music Mayhem, and Holler.Country. Madeleine O’Connell is a member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.